NEUROTRANSMITTERS are messenger chemicals in neurons (nerve cells). They exist at the end of the sending part of a neuron and make impulses travel from one nerve cell to the next. These impulses direct the many functions in your body.
YOUR BRAIN has of hundreds of millions of neurons. Different neurotransmitters exist for different types of messages.
Some medications are designed to cross the blood-brain barrier—move from the blood stream into the brain. This barrier is otherwise what protects the brain from toxins. Once in the brain, these drugs produce changes in neurotransmission.
TYPES of Neurotransmitters
There are more than 60 known neurotransmitters. These include:
SEROTONIN is a key brain chemical that signals calming and soothing effects. A serotonin deficiency can cause insomnia, moodiness, feelings of insecurity and a low tolerance of stress. Specific nutrients that increase serotonin production are Omega 3, tryptophan (or 5HTP), B vitamins, vitamin D3 and DHEA.
NOREPINEPHRINE is used to signal vigilance and alertness. A deficiency in norepinephrine itself usually manifests itself as exhaustion, lack of focus, cravings and excessive hunger.
GLUTAMATE is the neurotransmitter the body uses to heighten brain activity. It works together with GABA. Glutamate and GABA account most of the brain's activity.
GABA is used to send impulses to slow brain activity and balance the effects of excessive glutamate. Feelings of anxiety can indicate that neurons are producing too little GABA. Nutrients that boost GABA include theanine, taurine, NAC, B vitamins, zinc and magnesium, as well as GABA itself.
DOPAMINE is the pleasure neurotransmitter. It also improves circulation in the brain. Fatigue, feelings of apathy and decreased libido can be symptoms of low dopamine. Nutrients that target dopamine production include B vitamins, Omega 3 and the amino acid theanine.